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Data Mining Reveals the Secret to Getting Good Answers

 Technology Review (12/03/13)

Although question-and-answer websites are hugely popular and can be very helpful, they often have trouble dealing with the massive amount of questions and answers that get submitted daily.  To help filter the information, many websites allow users to rank both the questions and the answers, gaining a reputation for themselves as they contribute.  Still, it can be difficult to weed out off topic and irrelevant questions and answers.  However, State Key Laboratory for Novel Software Technology researchers have developed an algorithm that completes the task.  “To the best of our knowledge, we are the first to quantitatively validate the correlation between the question quality and its associated answer quality,” says State Key researcher Yuan Yao.  The researchers started the study by examining 2 million questions from 800,000 users who produced more than 4 million answers and 7 million comments on the Stack Overflow website.  The researchers examined the relationship between well-received questions and answers, and found that they are strongly correlated.  The algorithm can predict the quality score of the question and its expected answers, which enables it to find the best and worst questions and answers.

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